NEPAL BUDDHISM/MEDITATION COURSE & BEST OF BHUTAN

See the sights of Kathmandu and then embark on a journey of your mind. Guests will enjoy a 7 or 10 day Buddhism/Meditation Course taught by local monks, outside of Kathmandu. Learn meditation, study Buddhism, and explore your mind. The 10-day course culminates in a two-day silent retreat, while the 7-day course does not include the retreat. After the meditation course, we will embark on an exciting cultural adventure in Bhutan. In this portion of the trip, guests will be able to take part in, visit, and see all of Bhutan’s fantastic and varied cultural points of interest. A one-of-a-kind adventure, this trip will leave guests with a lifelong lasting set of skills and experiences.

SUMMARY

TRIP TYPE: Adventure

ACTIVITY LEVEL: Easy/Moderate

TRIP LENGTH: 20 days/19 nights or 18 days/17 nights

SPACES AVAILABLE:

TRIP COST: 

DATES

Custom Dates Available

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Learn about Buddhism & Meditation directly from the source

  • Experience the vibrant culture of the local Nepalese and Bhutanese people

  • Travel to ‘the Last Shangri La’ that is Bhutan and visit the “Tiger’s Nest” monastery

MEDIA

TEASER VIDEO

TREK TIPS

ITINERARY

Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu (4,600')

  • Arrive to Kathmandu, Nepal (KTM)
  • Purchase visa, advance through customs, and transfer to hotel
  • Welcome reception and dinner
  • Overnight: Hotel Yak & Yeti
  • Meals included: D

Day 2: Kathmandu Cultural Tour

  • Buffet breakfast: Sunrise Restaurant at Yak & Yeti Hotel
  • Cultural tour of Kathmandu: visit Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) and Bagmati River
  • Puja Ceremony at Bhoudanath Monastery
  • Overnight: Yak & Yeti Hotel
  • Meals: B/L/D

Day 3: Begin Buddhism & Meditation Course

  • Check-in at monastery
    • 5pm Tea
    • 5:45pm Intro session in Chenrezig Gompa
    • 6:30pm Dinner
    • 7:30pm Meditation
  • Overnight: Monastery
  • Meals included: B/L/D

Days 4-9 : Daily Buddhism Course

  • Buddhism & Meditation Course
    • 6:30am Meditation
    • 7:30am Breakfast
    • 9:15am Teaching
    • 11:30am Lunch
    • 2:00pm Discussion
    • 3:00pm Break
    • 3:30pm Teaching
    • 5:00pm Tea
    • 5:45pm Meditation
    • 6:30pm Dinner
    • 7:30pm Meditation, Q&A, other activities
  • Overnight: Monastery
  • Meals included: B/L/D

Day 10: Daily Buddhism Course

  • Silent retreat – 7 day course does NOT include the silent retreat
  • Overnight: Monastery
  • Meals included: B/L/D

Day 11: Daily Buddhism Course

  • Silent retreat – 7 day course does NOT include the silent retreat
  • Overnight: Monastery
  • Meals included: B/L/D

Day 12: Final Buddhism & Meditation Day

  • Buddhism & Meditation Course
    • 6:30am Meditation
    • 7:30am Breakfast
    • 9:30am Last Teaching
    • 11:30am Lunch
    • 12:30pm Check-out
  • Free afternoon in Kathmandu
  • Overnight: Hotel Yak & Yeti
  • Meals included: B/L/D

Day 13: Fly from Kathmandu, Nepal to Paro, Bhutan

  • Fly from Kathmandu, Nepal to Paro, Bhutan
  • Meet WWTrek representative at the airport
  • Transfer to Thimpu, the modern capital town of Bhutan
  • Spend afternoon visiting local sites: Kyichu Lhakhang and Paro Dzong
  • Overnight: Kisa Hotel or comparable
  • Meals included: B/L/D

Day 14: Guided Tour in Thimpu

  • Thimphu tour including:
    • Late King’s Memorial Chorten
    • the National Library
    • Drubthob Nunnery
    • Folk Heritage workshops
    • Zangtopelri Lhakhang
    • the Handicraft Emporium
    • and local handicraft centers to see weavers, varieties of textiles, thangko paintings, masks, jewelry, etc.
  • Overnight: Kisa Hotel or comparable
  • Meals included: B/L/D

Day 15: Thimpu/Punakha via Wangduephodrang

  • After breakfast drive to Punakha with a short stop at Dochula pass (10,105′)
  • Views of these peaks: Masagang, Tsendagang, Terigang, Jejegangphugang, Kangphugang, Zongphugang, and Gangkar Puensum (the highest peak in Bhutan at 24,596)
  • Visit Wangduephodrang Dzong and local market
  • Visit Punakha Dzong
  • Overnight: Hotel Vara or comparable
  • Meals included: B/L/D

Day 16: Punakha Day Trip to Gangtey Valley

  • Visit Gangety (Phobjikha) one of the view glacial valleys in Bhutan
  • Explore Phobjikha Valley
  • Visit Gangt Monastery, the only Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan
  • Overnight: Hotel Vara or equivalent
  • Meals included: B/L/D

Day 17: Drive from Punakha to Paro

  • After breakfast, drive to Paro
  • Visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the Kingdom, built in 1627
  • Back in Paro, visit Ta Dzong, the National Museum of the Kingdom
  • Walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong which houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head), and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro district
  • Overnight: Bhutan Metta Resort & Spa or comparable
  • Meals included: B/L/D

Day 18: Hike to Taksang Monastery (Tiger's Nest) & Explore Paro

  • 5-hour round-trip hike up to Taksang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest)
  • If time permits, visit Drukgyel Dzong and a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse
  • Visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in Bhutan
  • Overnight: Bhutan Metta Resort & Spa or comparable
  • Meals included: B/L/D

Day 19: Fly from Paro to Kathmandu

  • Fly early in the morning from Paro back to Kathmandu
  • Free time to roam Kathmandu or shop
  • Lunch on your own
  • Celebration and farewell dinner
  • Overnight: Hyatt Regency Kathmandu
  • Meals included: B/D

Day 20: Departure Day

  • International departures (from KTM)
  • Meals included: B

TRAVEL NOTES

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT:

Nepal experiences two main seasons: wet and dry season. The monsoonal year spans dry from October to May and wet from June through September. Prime trekking weather takes place in Spring from March to May and in autumn from September to November.

Nepal has five climatic zones, broadly corresponding to the altitudes. The Himalayan Range blocks cold winds from Central Asia in the winter and forms the northern limit of the monsoon wind patterns. In a land once thickly forested, deforestation is a major problem in all regions, with resulting erosion and degradation of ecosystems. We will be trekking through a variety of climates. Pay attention to WWTrek’s gear list, as we’ve taken the time to fine-tune it to suit the climates we trek. Expect the temperatures on your trek to range between the 50s at the beginning and drop to the 20-30 range higher in the Khumbu valley. Rain, sleet, and snow are always a possibility.

ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES:

This trip begins and ends in Kathmandu, Nepal. You will fly into and out of Tribhuvan International airport (KTM). The domestic flights between Kathmandu, Nepal and Paro, Bhutan are included.

RECOMMENDED FLIGHTS:

There are many flight options from the U.S. to Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM).  International airfares are not included in program pricing. WWTrek has an expert travel agent that can help you with all of your travel arrangements. We utilize Danny Genung at Harr Travel to book all of our flights. He can be reached at: danny@harrtravel.com or 909.266.0117. The benefit of using a travel agent is in the event of itinerary changes, the travel agent will find the best flight connections, and land arrangements, for you. Though third-party travel websites are convenient, they are not recommended, due to instability in the itineraries.

We recommend that you protect your flight with travel insurance and a refundable ticket.

CUSTOMS, VISA, AND IMMIGRATION:

Nepal Entry Visa: when clearing customs in Nepal you will be required to purchase a 30-day entry visa. The cost of the visa is $40, so make sure to bring cash with you. It helps to have exact change. In addition, remember to bring two passport photos for the visa. Waiting to try and have these taken in the Kathmandu airport will not only cause you undue delays, but it also tends to be exceedingly expensive.

EARLY ARRIVALS/LATE DEPARTURES:

Many guests prefer to arrive before, or leave after, the scheduled itinerary. We can help you make arrangements. Additional charges for early arrival, transportation, lodging, meals, and activities will apply.

GRATUITIES:

As in many parts of the world, gratuities are a symbol of a job well done. In addition to recognizing service people such as taxi drivers, restaurant, and hotel personnel, we also acknowledge our staff with a gratuity. You should plan to tip any service person that helps you, 10% for taxi drivers and restaurant staff is the norm. Check to see that a gratuity is not already included in the bill. Remember, if tipping in US dollars, when calculating the exchange rate, be careful not to tip too much. As you know, tipping is your option, and a reflection of the quality of service you receive.

Trekking Staff: At the trails-end you will have the opportunity to contribute to a group tipping pool that will be presented as we say our goodbyes.

Local trekking staff tip pool: $200 -$250/per person total

WWTrek Lead Professional Western Guide: $200-$250/per guest

WWTrek Professional Guide(s): $200 – $250 per guest/per guide

CURRENCY EXCHANGE:

It’s easy to exchange money in Kathmandu after you arrive. We will allot a specific time for all of our guests to exchange money during our Kathmandu Cultural Tour on day 2. Local currency is best on the trek. There is money exchange in Namche Bazaar, but it is better to have it done in Kathmandu. Depending on the person, you may spend $50 – $100 on the trek if you buy sodas, snacks or souvenirs. We always recommend bringing $500 cash with you on your trip for incidentals.

GENERAL INFORMATION

COUNTRY:

A landlocked sovereign nation, Nepal encompasses an area of 56,827 square miles (147,181 sq km) and has a population of approximately 30 million. The rugged, mountainous terrain has proven to be key in both the preservation of the nation’s deep cultural heritage as well as a hindrance to its worldly development.

Bhutan is a landlocked country and the smallest state in Asia to be located entirely within the Himalaya mountain range. Located in the Eastern Himalayas, it is bordered by China in the north and India in the south. In South Asia, Bhutan ranks first in economic freedom, ease of doing business and peace; second in per capita income and is the least corrupt country, as of 2016. However, Bhutan continues to be a least developed country.

POPULATION:

Nepal: 27.8 million  |  Bhutan: 753,947

TIME ZONE:

Nepal: UTC+5:45  |  Bhutan: UTC+6:00

CAPITAL CITY:

Kathmandu, Nepal  |  Thimphu, Bhutan

PEOPLE:

Sherpas: The people of the Khumbu

The Sherpas are an eastern, indigenous people living in the eastern regions of Nepal. The word Sherpa is a combination of two Tibetan words, “Shyar,” meaning east, and “Pa,” or people. They are indeed easterners both in origin and present location of settlement, as they migrated from Eastern Tibet and now live in Eastern Nepal. While traditionally Sherpas were farmers and traders, today many work in mountaineering, trekking, or portering. The Sherpa people are known for their strength and relationship to the mountains. Therefore, the Khumbu region is well known as “Sherpa Land.”

Bhutanese people primarily consist of the Ngalops and Sharchops, called the Western Bhutanese and Eastern Bhutanese respectively. The Lhotshampa, meaning “southerner Bhutanese”, are a heterogeneous group of mostly Nepal ancestry. The Ngalops primarily consist of Bhutanese living in the western part of the country. Their culture is closely related to that of Tibet. Much the same could be said of the Sharchops the dominant group, who traditionally follow the Nyingmapa rather than the official Drukpa Kagyu form of Tibetan Buddhism. In modern times, with improved transportation infrastructure, there has been much intermarriage between these groups.

LANGUAGE:

There are over one hundred different languages spoken in Nepal by the various ethnic groups. The main language spoken throughout the regions of Nepal, is Nepali. Our trek will take us through the Khumbu Valley where the villagers speak Sherpa, a Tibetan dialect, as well as Nepali.

The national language is Bhutanese (Dzongkha), one of 53 languages in the Tibetan language family. The script, here called Chhokey (“Dharma language”), is identical to classical Tibetan. In the schools English is the medium of instruction and Dzongkha is taught as the national language. Ethnologue lists 24 languages currently spoken in Bhutan, all of them in the Tibeto-Burman family, except Nepali, an Indo-Aryan language.

CULTURE & RELIGION:

The people of Nepal are as diverse as the land that sustains them. Inhabiting different altitudes, various ethnic, tribal, and social groups have maintained their unique heritage for centuries. The 12 main ethnic groups of Nepal are: Bhojpuri, Bhotiya, Bahun and Chhetri, Gurung, Magar, Maithali, Newar, Rai-Limbu, Rajbanshi, Sherup, Tamang, and Tharu. Since the 1950’s, many Tibetan refugees now call Nepal home and contributed to the array of culture within Nepal. Eighty percent of the population practice Hinduism. Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion as well as the oldest. Originating in India, Hinduism’s eclectic religious, philosophical, and cultural roots are characterized by their belief in reincarnation—one absolute being or soul reborn multiple times in various manifestations until enlightenment is achieved. Ten Percent of the population practice Buddhism while the remaining 10% are either Muslim, Christian or Kirant (an indigenous religion). Many of the temples throughout Nepal are shared by both participants of Hinduism and Buddhism as beliefs are similar. Often times, religious and cultural practices are difficult to distinguish as many individuals often employ dual faith practices.

Bhutan has a rich and unique cultural heritage that has largely remained intact because of its isolation from the rest of the world until the mid-20th century. One of the main attractions for tourists is the country’s culture and traditions. Bhutanese tradition is deeply steeped in its Buddhist heritage. Hinduism is the second most dominant religion in Bhutan, being most prevalent in the southern regions. The government is increasingly making efforts to preserve and sustain the current culture and traditions of the country. Because of its largely unspoiled natural environment and cultural heritage, Bhutan has been referred to as The Last Shangri-la.

MONEY:

The official currency in Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee Introduced in 1932, the Rupee is abbreviated Rs. Check online for current conversion rates.